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May 30, 2012


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in this day and age, a new generation of food products has permeated our society.

this is a background sentence for the 1st para. is that ok. some books suggest that "in this day and age" is a good alternative to "nowadays", which has been overused.

Thanks a lot

Hi Jessica,

It's ok as an alternative, but it won't get you a higher score because it's not really 'topic vocabulary'.

thanks, Simon,
because itles is a popular test, we are exposed to too many books. in fact, one of my friends is reading the model essays prepared by an ex-examiner, who offers a similar service to yours. he appears to use "admittedly" frequently. in another booki read, the author, who is famous in china, uses "by way of conclusion" to start the conclusion, suggesting that it is more formal than "in conclusion". that's why i raised some questions about these phases. is that because the boundary between formal or informal or between advanced and intermediate level is blurred? it is simply a matter of chioce?

Hi Simom,

I want to ask if this can be viewed as one advantage - conveniently providing diversity of food.

This is derived from that because technology makes the transportation faster, the food can be moved from more distant place without stale.

Thank you very much.

Hi Jessica,

As you may have noticed, model essays are written by different tutors/ex-examiners, which means that everyone has his or her own style of writing.

I think it is sometimes difficult to say which words or phrases are good for IELTS because it all depends on how you use them in different contexts. Furthermore, I always tell my students NOT to waste time memorizing "big words/phrases" as they will NOT give you a better score. Instead, just use common words/phrases like "nowadays" or "in conclusion" and spend most of your time to think of "big main/supporting ideas" and write sentences that are clear and error-free.

I hope this helps to change your view about IELTS writing and you can have a different approach to prepare for this test.

Good luck!


Hello Ohya,

I think you have a valid point there. The topic does not limit the scope of discussion to genetic engineering. Technological and scientific advances have also improved the logistics of food businesses. You could discuss how more advanced, fuel-efficient car designs could theoretically lead to lower consumer prices. You could even include some discussion on buying foods from foreign countries over the Internet.

Hello Jessica,

As Martin has alluded to, there is nothing inherently superior about a sentence that starts with "by way of conclusion" compared to "in conclusion". What is important is the quality of the writing and the ideas of the essay as a whole. "By way of conclusion", "in conclusion", "ultimately", "in summary", "to summarise"... all of these are equally effective if used properly.

In one of his essays, Steve Jobs started his conclusion with a one-word paragraph: "Conclusions." followed by a new paragraph. But he was Steve Jobs, and he distorted reality all the time. I'm not sure if that sort of writing is considered "proper" enough on the IELTS, but it's a good read nonetheless.

Hi Simom,

Thanks for your answer, it helps a lot.

Hi Simon!
may I write obvious problem instead of writing serious problem??

Hi Farux,

I'm not Simon but I think it's fine to address obvious problems. After all, you will be tested on your writing ability, not your depth of knowledge. If you can take a simple problem and discuss it in a thorough and impressive way, that should be totally AOK.

Hi Jean-Luc !!! Thaks very much for advice!!!!

Hi guys,

Martin and Jean-Luc have already answered everything perfectly! Thanks for your help!

Hi Jean-Luc,

I've never seen your name in Simon's website, but it's great to have you as part of this blog!

Thanks for your input and for sharing the link! It's a nice read indeed. I'm not a big fan of the late Steve Jobs or Apple products, but I somehow feel that he is still alive.


Hi Martin,

Thanks for your welcome. I think this blog is a great resource for IELTS students. Many people pay hundreds of bucks to obtain the kind of advice that is offered here for free, so I think this is something worth contributing to.

Hi Simon, I'm Quynh, I come from Vietnam. I have visited your website so many times but it's the very first time i write a comment.
First, many thanks for your help. The website is thoroughly useful and informative.
Second, can you help me deal with this type of question in writing task 2 " what is your own opinion"
To me, I think it's a bit broad so I don't know how to organise my ideas. I use to state my opinion at the introduction. In the body, I choose to pupport by listing reasons for it or predicting the case in future. However, I don't know what exactly the examiners expect for and this confuses me a bit. So, I really hope for your intruction on it.
Best regards,

Hi Truc,

You're doing the right thing. Just give your opinion in the introduction, then explain it with reasons and examples in the rest of the essay.

Hi Jean-Luc,

I agree with Martin. It's great to have you here!

Hi Simon, I am Mohammad. thank you so much for ur website, what i wanted to ask about is that i sat IELTS 3 times for now and although i nearly studied all books (including the 7 or 8 Cambridge series, target band 7, master IELTS and others), i usually get 6.5 in writing although i got higher scores in all other modules: 7 speaking, 8 listening and 8.5 reading, and although i , as i think, applied all advices i have read, i can't surpass this 6.5 in writing, any advices ???

Hi Mohammad,

That is unusual. I would think that one's writing skill is tied to his/her reading ability, so I wonder why your reading and writing scores are this different.

I think Simon once wrote that a 6.5 means you don't have any major errors in your approach to the exam. Maybe you just need to improve your grammar and vocabulary a bit more. I wish I could be more helpful, but it's hard to tell exactly where you need to improve without seeing a sample essay that you wrote, and unfortunately we don't give essay feedback on this site.

hi jean- Luc, I also got the same score as mohammad R - 8.5 W - 6.5, and i'm so frustrated with it. This is my 2nd time taking ielts and i'm going to take again for the 3rd and last time. I believe also in Simon that getting a score of 6.5 in writing means we don't have to learn anything new. I think my major mistake is that i'm afraid that i'll do an essay that is underlength so i tend to make it longer,and the result is my coherence and cohesion are greatly affected. Also, I think that my vocabulary is only average.

is 'ivent the ways of problem' same with find the ways of problem ' in writing task 2?

sorry not ivent is was invent

Hello, jean-Luc,
I think writing is different from reading. writing is about expressions, while reading is about comprehension. professional soccer fans far outnumber professional soccer players.

the words we can use are far less than the words we know. i think this is true in all languages.

for example, constraints, restraints, restrictions have similar meanings to me, I am chinese. but when i use these words, i will have problems, i cannot distinguish their nuances and i am not familiar with what contexts are suitable for these words.

could u give me some idea?

Hi Jessica,

The analogy is not as much between a soccer fan and a soccer player, than the difference between a soccer player's shooting skill and passing skill.

However I do agree that writing is a more difficult skill to master than reading.

Personally, I don't leave a new word or phrase behind me until I can confidently use it in my own writing. The effort of studying a word through literally dozens of contexts definitely pays off. Each of the words "constraint", "restraint", and "restriction" produce different impressions in my mind. In general, I think constraints are more conceptual, restraints are more physical, and restrictions refer to a much broader category of limitations.

  • When I see "constraint" I think of boundaries or rules that apply to a system design.
  • The word "restraint" produces a somewhat unpleasant image of a criminal being handcuffed or a violently psychotic patient tied to a bed.
  • "Restrictions" are, in my opinion, a broader category of limitations than the aforementioned two, so no mental images here.

Hope that helps.

"Restraint" is also what you exercise when you resist the urge to do something. Used in this way, it implies that you are fighting against your own desires. For example:

  • "Whenever I pass by that jewellery store, I have to restrain myself from entering." ("Constrain" is wrong; "restrict" is less appropriate.)
  • "The police managed to restrain the knife-wielder and take him into custody." (Neither "constrain" nor "restrict" are appropriate.)
  • "I know it's tempting to criticise your colleague, but you should exercise restraint in front of your boss."

There is another word "confine" that is similar in meaning to these three. When you "confine" something, you limit it to a certain space or volume.

  • As punishment for bad behaviour, his parents confined him to his room for the day.
  • You shouldn't smoke in a confined space.
  • These chickens that are confined to small cages should be allowed to roam freely.

Hi simon, your website is really a masterpiece. I am posting my first written work here, as my writimg is the weakest module. i have got 8.5 in listening and reading with 7 in speaking but in writing i m getting 6.5 on regular basis...
i am sharing my answer on same topic, if anyone find any mistake he is welcome to correct that.


It is true that we are buying food products which have changed both in quality and variety,with the aid of latest scientific and technological breakthroughs.Many people consider this as a negative development, but i think it is a real breakthrough to fulfill the growing demands for food.

Many people think that using the technological methods for increasing food output is a bad practice.It is harmful to human beings and animals in a number of ways.For example,use of pesticides and fertilizers although help to control insects and produce more amount of crops,those chemicals get absorbed by crops.When such food,containing harmful chemicals,is consumed by human beings,it affects their health in a bad way.Furthermore,in order to get more amount of milk and meat from animals,certain drugs are used. they are harmful not only to animals but also to humans. For example, scientists have found significant levels of a harmful drug,used for producing more milk, in animal milk which we consume on daily basis.

Many people advocates the role of scientific research and development programmes in achieving greater output of food and variety of crops.I totally agree with this school of thought.To meet with the growing demands of food,more food production is required.It can only be achieved by using scientific techniques like genetic modification and genetic engineering.Genetically modified crops can result in high output of food,which can feed hungry people around the world.Otherwise people will die out of hunger due to shortage of food.For example, many children are dying in Africa because of shortage of food.By producing more and more food using modern methods, we can save thier life.

In conclusion,technology development in the field of food production can play a very important role in order to avoid disasterous impacts of hunger on people living in impoverished regions.

After thinking about it, I find that "restrict" is often used where discipline is involved.

  • "This is a restricted area. Only employees are allowed to enter."
  • "For weight loss and good health, exercise is preferable to diet restriction."
  • "Internet use at work is restricted to reduce distractions in the work environment."
  • "On Australian rural highways, traffic is restricted to travelling at speeds of 100 kph or less."

No wonder that today hungry is a major problem in most countries. So producing more GM modified foods governments may reduce this problem. Because Gm modified is cheaper than natural foods....
is it a good idea ? how do you think?

Hi Simon,
please give some feedback on my following introduction:
With an ever-growing population and the problems of World hunger, there has been high demands of increased food supply. Technology has recently been called upon to meet this challenge, and the changes brought to food industry are unprecedentedly enormous. It is still debated, however, whether these changes have improved or worsened food quality and sanitation. I believe that the benefits outweights the drawbacks.

hello peace

I am going through the same problem as yours. i get 6.5 in writing. I need 7 each band as well.

I went through your essay. i found your vocabulary adequate, infact i got to learn many things from you. In my opinion you have written limited ideas on topic. you have foccussed on hunger as ur main idea, but you could have also mentioned other ideas posted by simon such as its effect on ecosystem, danger to food chain cycle, less environment friendly and on positive of GM food as profits farmers can gain as they can grow crops taller and faster, food can last for longer duration, looks more attractive along with your ideas.

As i am not native english speaker, i have been asking favour with my work mates to check my writing and trace my mistakes. It will be great help if u can find a native english writer to check your work. But try to find someone who have ideas on academic writing styles.

cheers buddy

thanks josh...

you are right, i must try to include 2 to 3 main ideas.In real test i mostly suffer because of inadequate time management.I am practising this time by following guidelines given by simon and i am improving my writing day by day.I am going to take my IELTS on 16th of June. Hope this time things go nice.

thaks again

Hi Mr. Simon,
I am posting my piece of written work about the food technology. Can you please grade it?The range and quality of food that we can buy has changed because of technological and scientific advances. Some people regard this change as an improvement, while others believe that it is harmful.
Discuss both views and give your own opinion.
Today, the food technology has revolutionized the various varieties and standard of food people consume .It is debated whether technology or science brings more benefits than drawback, my view is that advantages outweigh the disadvantages This essay will look at both sides of the argument.
On the one hand, there are many benefits of technological developments in food and beverage industry. Farmers can produce crops that grow faster. Genetically modified crops are more resistant to disease, drought and insect, and it results in more production and more profit. For example, Pusa Institute of Agriculture in New Delhi, India, has introduced a variety of wheat that can grow faster and increase the production 75% more than other species of wheat. As this shows that advances in technology is a positive sign of boosting production. Thus, it is concluded from this example that technological and scientific innovations in food industry are worthwhile.
On the other hand, there are many negatives of these advances in food technology as well. Many people do not trust the processed or genetically modified foods. They prefer organic foods which are produced without chemicals, and growing crops without fertilizers and pesticides is environmentally friendly. For example, a friend of mine in Saudi Arabia, is always buying fresh vegetables and meat instead of frozen foods, and as a result of consuming fresh foods, he is having no signs of rheumatoid disease. As this shows that preserved foods do not have much nutrients. Thus, it is clear that processed food is unhealthy.
Following this look at this discussion, it has been shown that the innovations in food technology are enhancing the quality of life. It is believed that advances in food technology bringing more benefits than drawbacks. It is predicted that these developments in food and beverage industry will continue to be used in a safe way.

Hi Simon
Thanx a lot for your valuable advices,

I'd ask you, is it ok if I talk about pre-prepare and ready-to-cook foods which are becoming more common due to the technology such as microwaves and fridge.

Hi Meaad,

That might be considered a bit 'off-topic', so I probably wouldn't talk about those things.

Hi Simon
I would like to know that if I should point out my own opinion in the first paragraph in this kind of "discuss both sides" task?
Thank you!

Hi Inez,

Yes, if the question asks for your opinion, it's a good idea to state it in the introduction.


it is true that food productions that we use daily have changed in both quality and variety with the aid of science and technology. while there are some negative effects,i believe that we all should consider this change as an improvement.

I have written the essay using Simon's advice and ideas, comments are welcome:

The notable progress in technology and science has offered today’s buyers with a wide variety of foods and improved quality. However, some people consider this as an achievement while others think that there are considerable harmful effects of the same. In my opinion, the advancement has benefits which outweigh the harmful effects on food.

Talking about the benefits first, the genetic modification of crops enables farmers to produce crops that grow bigger and faster. This not only helps the farmers to earn more profits but is also
important for food production in developing nations. Secondly, foods and crops can be genetically modified to make them more resistant to insects and other predators which in turn will enable foods to last for longer duration. Thirdly, the foods can be grown in perfect size which will definitely appeal to customers and contribute to increase their sale.

The advancement in food technology definitely has some drawbacks which are not acceptable by few people. Firstly, some people prefer organic foods which are grown without using any chemicals over the genetically modified foods which are grown using pesticides or chemicals. Secondly, there can be a detrimental effect on ecosystems as the crops which are resistant to predators cannot be eaten by the insects and animals lower than plants in the food chain leading to imbalance.

To conclude, the advancement in science and technology helps produce foods and fruits better quality and more in quantity. Although it might have some side effects but has more benefits which help farmers and economies of countries.

Hi Simon
I sometimes read and try to grasp ideas from your site.Its really helpful,,any we are fortunate enough to be advised by an expert in IELTS ,,I will be sitting my Academic in July 2013 and I really need your advise,,thank you so much for the great effort and input.God bless you all

Dear Simon
Undoubtedly,many efforts lie at the heart of the site has been being proposed many information about IELTS exam which I call Simon s Effort.It is immediately obvious that it is very fruitful for me but also for all who wants to take an IELTS exam.
finally i want to say many thanks in advance because of your attempt.
Best Regards,
Ali Bashash

Some people believe that the application of high technologies can have positive effects on our food system. Firstly, technologies have been changing the whole food industry to be more productive and efficient than ever before because the aim of such technologies is to produce a lot of food on a small amount of land at a very affordable price. Secondly, if a newly-invented agricultural technology can be applied extensively, everyone can benefit from it. Finally, our food have been becoming more delicious and attractive to customers due to food engineering techniques, which is the main reason for the food companies to achieve enormous profit.

I would have to support the idea that the disadvantages of food technologies outweigh the advantages. Firstly, engineered food tends to contain more fat, sugar and salt than they should have. Long-term diet of such food may consequently result in obesity, high blood pressure and type-two diabetes. Secondly, experiments have already shown that genetically modified food may have side effects on our health. Finally, food industry is totally ecological unfriendly, and currently it is very hard to come up with a solution which allows the food industry to produce green and healthy food without compromising the integrity and sustainability of our ecosystem.

It is widely argued whether the development of technologies has given some significant improvements on the quality and the variety of food. Although there are always some drawbacks as a result of an advancement, I believe that the benefits offered are much more essential to take into account.

To begin with, many people often distrust foods that have been modified or processed as chemicals have always been the main concern. Therefore, they prefer organic products, which are free of the chemical substances. Moreover, they believe farming without fertilizers or pesticides is a safer and more environmentally friendly method. By contrast, genetically modified crops may be more risky as it might change the whole ecosystems. For instance, food chains could be broken if crops are resistant to predators like insects.

Nevertheless, I would argue that the positive impacts do outweigh all the negative concerns. Beneficially, all farmers can produce crops that grow bigger, faster and more resistant to diseases or insects. With the advancement of the technologies, food can even be modified to look perfect and last longer, and therefore they may be more attractive to the customers. In other words, these will result as important effects to the food production in developing countries. Faster growing cereals, fruit and vegetables will mean more profit, not only to the farmers but also to the countries.

In conclusion, while there are some reasons to worry about the negative sides of the scientific advancement on crops, my own view is that we have to be more open and flexible towards the advantages of living in modern world.

dear simon :
i don't know if this sort of pattern will be functional
1.write about the same occasions in the opposite statement . like i choose both the gm food and fertilizer for instances in two statements .would that show that i've critical thinking and could judge from differential angle ?
or would that be too monotonous ? i don't know how to choose !
best regard

Dear sir,
Can I write this kind of introduction.

Undoubtedly, people in this time are more aware about their health and advansment in technology and science has changed the resources of foodstuffs. Some people think that it has bad impact on health but in my point of, it's a need of the time to fulfill the demand of the society.

Thank you sir yours your views proves helpful for me. But I plz tell me how I improve my writing with short time period.
Thank you

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